Fishermen win crown by 32 points

SPANAWAY — “It is a record that can never be broken,” Clark Wilson said with pride after the Ilwaco Fishermen golf team won its fourth consecutive 1A state championship at Spanaway Lake Golf Course May 22.

Ross Kukula won the individual state title for the second consecutive year during the two-day tournament played mostly in continuous rain.

Fellow senior Anthony Yoder placed 11th after making a strong comeback.

Sophomore Kenneth Sheldon came through with rounds of 81 and 83 and his 164 tied him for 25th among the 83 golfers who began the tournament May 21. The Fishermen out-scored Lynden Christian 132.5 to 98 and Blaine was third with 77 team points.

“Fifty years from now I’m probably going to look back and realize I was part of a dynasty,” Kukula said. “My second day I wanted to shoot in the 60s so that I would make it extremely difficult for anyone to catch me. I could feel it.”

Kukula led after the first day with a score of 71 and won medalist honors going away by finishing with a 68 on the second day.

“We have never had a player shoot a 31 for nine holes at state and that is what Ross did on the back nine,” coach Dan Whealdon said. “He chipped in two shots for eagles, that’s how locked in he was.”

Wilson tied for fourth place with scores of 75 and 77 for a total of 148. Yoder improved from his 80 on the first day of the tournament to come around with a 76 Wednesday, finishing within one stroke from a tie for eighth place.

“The harder it rained, the better Clark played,” said Whealdon. “Kenneth shot his best golf when it counted to make the cut on the first day. Anthony on the second day was determined to shoot better than his first-round of 80, even in a three-hour rain storm.

“Winning four straight with these seniors was fun to watch,” Whealdon said. “They have tremendous focus, confidence and patience. They love to play, love to practice and love to compete.”

“I was a little nervous on the first tee at state, but I was confident I could make the cut and score points for the team if I kept focusing on shooting well,” said Sheldon. “Now I want to do even better at state next year.”

“I was nervous for the first time in two years, but that was a good feeling because I knew a lot was riding on how I played,” said Yoder.

“Kenneth and Anthony’s comebacks showed just how tough our kids are,” said Whealdon. “They played their best golf at the most crucial time and they didn’t let the horrible weather bother them at all.”

“I was happy with my lagging and putting — I never missed one from inside three feet — and was glad I could contribute this year to a championship. My family, our coaches and my teammates are very supportive and my dad (Don Sheldon) helped teach me the game,” said Sheldon.

“The late Phil Winters inspired me in everything golf and I put his initials on my golf ball. I also put my girlfriend’s initials (Cindy Pacheco) for luck. My dad (Jon Kukula) and brothers (Ryan and Blake) have been very special supporters for me. Winning the individual title this year was more a relief and last year it was more exciting being the first in school history to win,” Kukula stated.

“My stepdad, Brian Wilson and coach Dave Hansen have helped me be the person I have become. Winning the fourth straight championship is something I will never forget. Even more memorable is the friendship I have with Clark and Ross. We’ve been playing golf and basketball together since the third grade. It’s been great while it lasted,” Yoder shared with sincerity.

“Anthony hit the green almost every time on Wednesday and he had putts lip out, putts hit the back of the cup and bounce out and some bad hops even on the green, but to his credit he kept grinding,” said Hansen. “He knew his score was important to the team and he didn’t let anything affect his play. He didn’t get a birdie on any of the 36 holes, but he showed so much class. I am proud of him.”

“I want to thank Jon Kukula for his help and for letting us practice on the Surfside Golf Course. He is a big part of our success. Being state champs our freshman year was really exciting, but this year was fun because it will be our last in high school,” Wilson said. He will play golf next year at Willamette University, where he will join Ryan Kukula as a teammate.

FINAL?SCORING

Ilwaco 132.50

Lynden Christian 98

Blaine 77

Chewelah 50

Seattle Christian 41

Mount Baker 39

Chimacum 39

King’s 38

Bush 31.5

La Salle 25.5

Charles Wright Acad. 20.5

Lakeside 14

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